It's been a busy month for local hip-hop, both in the studio and on the screen. Here's how some emcees have spent the Portland autumn.
TxE, "Swing Set"
In case you couldn't guess from the title of this new track from TxE—that's rappers Tope and Epp and producer G-Force aka Calvin Valentine—or the title of the their new EP, Tetherball, the group has been in a nostalgic mood recently. It continues in this clip, which has the look of an early '90s Native Tongues video, with the emcees riffing on A Tribe Called Quest's "Check the Rhime" ("You on point, Epp?" "All the time, Tope") over a languid reworking of the beat to another ATCQ classic, "Luck of Lucien."
The EP—available for download here—is a bit of a stopgap until the trio releases its full-length, which Tope says will be more of an "indie" inspired production.
MY-G featuring Gift of Gab, Slimkid3, DJ Wicked, "Save Us All"
Portland emcee and promoter MY-G likes to call himself "the King of Features" (it's the title of his latest album), but the stars of this track are the rappers he features. Over a bluesy, soulful beat co-produced by MY-G and Smoke of Oldominion, Blackalicious verbal machine-gun, Gift of Gab, and Slimkid3 of the Pharcyde spit politically agitated lyrics, accompanied by slick visuals from director Jake Lyon, depicting a hip-hop takeover of a local news station. Local blues legend Curtis Salgado and the eastside Voodoo Doughnuts also make cameos.
Illmaculate, "Walk on Water (Fear of God)"
Two years ago, Sandpeople emcee OnlyOne and producer Lawz Spoken dropped their "'80s drug drama/computer sci-fi" concept album CHRON.On Dec. 17, the sequel, CHRON: Legacy ('notch) hits as a free download, but with Portland battle rap icon Illmaculate stepping up to the mic. In this video, Illmac reps St. Johns over sepia-toned religious imagery, while Lawz's synthesized, Jan Hammerish beat underscores his deft rhymes with cinematic heft.
Any guesses about what's depicted in this video? Hint: It's in the title. Hippie Sabotage's airy head-nod production soundtracks four minutes of joint-puffing, bottle-swigging and, oddly, Scrabble-playing, from Sandpeople member Al-One and friends. Admittedly, it looks like a hell of a party.
Luck-One and Dizz, "Dem Say Yeah"
Not sure how I missed this the first time around, but luckily, it was brought to my attention, because it's a beautiful video. Taken from Luck-One's collaboration with singer-rapper Dizz, Critical Mass, the song is alluringly enigmatic, and the black-and-white video, from director Sawyer Purman, is a stunner. I won't say more. Just watch it.